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GGG and Chocolatito Look Human, Kamegai Breaks Through – What We’ve Learned

By Michael Montero: Saturday September 10th featured three signature fights between six fighters representing five different countries. Four of these combatants brought undefeated professional careers into the ring with them; two “0’s” had to go.Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, of Kazakhstan, put his middleweight titles on the line against Kell “Special K” Brook, of England, inside London’s O2 Arena before a raucous sellout crowd.

Later on from Inglewood, California inside The Forum, Mexican native Jesus Soto Karass took on Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai in a rematch of their thrilling brawl earlier this year. Then Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, the consensus pound for pound class of boxing, moved up in weight to challenge his fourth world title against Carlos Cuadras, of Mexico. After a terrific night of action, here’s what we learned.

When Golovkin-Brook was first announced, many boxing fans sighed and drew comparisons to the Canelo-Khan mismatch earlier this year in Las Vegas. However Kell Brook not only held his own against GGG, he seemed to take his punches well and certainly got his attention with a massive uppercut in the second round (which he clearly won). The difference was Golovkin’s jab. When he worked behind the jab to set up punches, he scored effectively. Special K’s movement and speed gave the Kazakhstan KO machine problems, and he missed wildly with lead left hooks and overhand rights to the head. However when Gennady worked behind the jab and started with the body, he dominated. In fact it was the double left hook – body, head – he landed in the first round that not only wobbled Brook, but shattered his right eye socket. The Londoner would bravely fight on with the injury, but it would ultimately lead to a premature ending to the contest. Many fans complained when trainer Dominic Ingle threw in the towel toward the end of the fifth round, but it was absolutely the right call.

Look no further than Antonio Margarito’s career-altering eye injury at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in their 2010 bout for an example of a corner being far too brave for their fighter. What we learned Saturday night in London is that when Gennady Golovkin fights undisciplined, he looks very human. However with his punch resistance and master trainer Abel Sanchez in his corner to reel him in, once he gets back to fundamentals he’s damn near unbeatable. As for Kell Brook, his trainer may have saved his career, as he was well on his way to being stopped in the next round or two against Golovkin. Once he recovers from surgery, fans can expect him to be a key player at junior middleweight, where he would give the Charlo brothers, Lara and everyone else in the division fits.

The Kamegai-Soto Karass rematch was somewhat disappointing in the fact that it was fairly one-sided. When these two fought back in April there was tremendous two-way action throughout the ten round contest, which ended in a draw. This time around Yoshihiro Kamegai dug to the body early and often, and Jesus Soto Karass just looked flat. The Sinaloa, Mexico native, who now calls LA suburb North Hollywood home, was coming off a two year layoff in the first contest.

Many boxing pundits thought he would look fresher this time around (including this writer) but that was not the case. In fact, Soto Karass had been talking about retirement during camp. He appeared to have nothing left. What we learned here is that when a fighter starts talking about retirement, he’s already halfway there. For Kamegai, this is the signature victory of a hard fought, honest, workmanlike professional career. He’s earned another high profile opportunity and a career high payday to boot.

In the main event at The Forum, before a crowd of 6,714 wild fans, Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras put on one of the best fights of the year. At the end of twelve rounds the judges scored it for the Nicaraguan 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111, giving him his fourth world title. By the end of the fight Chocolatito’s face was a swollen mess, and Cuadras looked pretty fresh. To the uneducated fan it would seem that perhaps the Mexican was “robbed”, and there was quite a bit of chatter on the subject among fans on social media.

The lesson learned here is simple – professional prize fights are not scored on bumps and bruises. From the onset, Gonzalez was pushing forward and Cuadras was on the back foot. When the Mexican landed punches they didn’t have much snap. When Gonzalez landed, he pushed his opponent back. Chocolatito threw 215 more power punches, landing 83 more. In total he landed 322 of 983 punches (33%), to 257 of 889 for Cuadras (29%). He out-threw Cuadras in all but one round (the first) including the twelfth, where Gonzalez threw 109 punches to 76 from Cuadras, and out-landed him in all but three rounds. Fights are scored round by round on a “ten point must” system, and the Nicaraguan clearly won the majority of the rounds in a very close, very competitive bout. Any talk of “robbery” from overzealous nationalistic fans is ridiculous.

Robberies do happen in boxing, but this was not one. In taking his first loss, Cuadras more than proved his worth and has certainly earned another big opportunity. Perhaps he can work himself into a rematch, but he’s going to have to wait. Japan’s Naoya Inoue was ringside for the contest and had to be licking his chops, because the bottom line is that Cuadras was able to put leather on Gonzalez and he is not as powerful or fast as the “Monster”. The promoters involved and the executives at HBO are interested in putting out a Gonzalez-Inoue bout next year. The question is, where? The Monster is yet to fight outside of Japan, would he be willing to travel for a unification opportunity with Chocolatito? Roman’s co-promoter is Japanese, and he has fought in Japan several times during his illustrious career. One thing boxing fans learned long ago is that money talks. And ultimately, the location and timing of this bout will certainly come down to who, when and where can deliver the most “bang for the buck”.

Questions, comments, hate mail – you know what to do. Twitter/Youtube/Facebook / Instagram: @MonteroOnBoxing

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